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Everything posted by Batsuchan

  1. Oops! You are totally right! My mistake. I guess it was my wishful thinking.... ;) ...in which she was paired with Gomes, Shklyarov, and Bolle... I actually have enjoyed Semionova/Hallberg in the more technique-heavy ballets like Swan Lake and even her first Don Q. It is more the "passion play" ballets where I have found them underwhelming, and although Giselle has many competition-worthy variations, I think it does require a strong emotional connection to be truly effective. I also continue to think that Hallberg has difficulty partnering Semionova, so holds back a bit, in order not to overly tax him.. Yes, he said basically the same thing tonight at his talk at ABT. Not necessarily that he "would never have received" such coaching at ABT, but that he has a very dedicated coach at the Bolshoi, and that he really appreciates the strong coach-student relationship that is prized in the Russian system. He also said of Zakharova/Osipova/Semionova that they are such great artists, so he likes to let them lead, basically.
  2. Here are some thoughts on tonight's performance with Kent/Bolle. 1) Bolle did the entrechat six, hooray! They were quite lovely since he has beautiful, long legs, but he also seemed to be running out of steam by the end (as is appropriate in the story). He actually gestured toward Myrta with his arms while he was jumping--so that kept the drama going. As for the brise vs entrechat discussion--I am actually fine with either; I saw Corella do the brises in his final Giselle, and they were stunning. I guess my complaint about last night really stemmed from the fact that a) I was really looking forward to Hallberg's entrechat sixes and b) his brises were NOT impressive NOR dramatic. Overall, Bolle did a wonderful job--great dancing, great acting, and great partnering. To me, he's not quite as musical as Gomes, but his dancing was beautiful. I almost felt bad for Giselle when he first entered because he was so impeccably good-looking--clearly he was too gorgeous to be anything but a playboy! 2) If you've never seen Giselle before, then you probably would've thought Kent's dancing was pretty great. She knows her limits, so she takes care to limit her movements so that what she can execute is done effortlessly and with polish. This sometimes means omitting difficult steps altogether. In her Act I variation, she didn't even bother trying the penche arabesques. She looked visibly nervous before the hops on pointe (which turned out fine), but that was the only time that her dancing looked labored. In Act II, the tempi was fast again, saving her from having to hold the balances, and she changed the phrasing so that she could spend more time doing the port de bras and less time holding the developpes and arabesques. She has lost the flexibility required to do big, 180-degree split leaps (grand jetes), so at the end of the p.d.d., the big lifts where Giselle typically splits her legs were replaced with more of the "bunny hops." However, the press lifts early on were beautiful, though without the jaw-droppingly slow descent that we saw with Vishneva/Gomes. Of course, like I said earlier, if you didn't know what you were missing, you probably would've thought she was lovely. I have always liked Kent's characterization of Giselle. She's quite believably girlish, and very winsome, and I always find myself kind of rooting for her. And she and Bolle have great chemistry together. So tonight's performance was definitely emotionally satisfying for me, even if it didn't approach the transcendent heights of Monday's show. 3) Tonight Abrera was Myrta and that was quite a treat. I said it last week and I'll say it again--I wish SHE were the lead, not the secondary character! I also enjoyed Christine Shevchenko and Zhong-jing Fang as the secondary wilis (I can never remember their names). 4) On Monday, I was so gobsmacked by Vishneva/Gomes that I didn't properly gush about Gorak & Lane's peasant p.d.d., so I'll do so now. Gorak had a little trouble with the double tour sequence but was still lovely to watch, while I felt like I've never seen Lane dance better than she did tonight. We've talked a lot on this thread about "giving extra," and today, I felt like Lane was feeling very inspired and really going for it. Her triple pirouettes were perfection, and she held one balance extra long. She looked so happy to be dancing with Gorak (and he with her)--such a contrast to the nearly-disastrous outings I've seen with her and Simkin. Their p.d.d. tonight made me very sad that I'll have to miss their Coppelia. 5) Radetsky was supposed to be Hilarion but was replaced by Patrick Ogle. I hear he's injured. I hope it's not serious! ** On a side note, I will say that tonight's show really made me wish Bolle had been paired with Semionova instead. I think she would've been much more engaging--and probably freer in her dancing--if she had danced with him. Maybe someday...
  3. Welllll, that was an interesting contrast with last night. 95% of the performance with Semionova/Hallberg, I probably would've characterized the performance like this: expertly executed and beautiful, and even though it was lacking the emotional heft of Monday's show, it was a performance that ABT could be proud of. AND THEN HALLBERG OMITTED THE ENTRECHAT SIX! There were murmurs of surprise and disappointment in my section, and the guy ahead of me even let out a disapproving "no!!" Instead, Hallberg did the brises down the diagonal, twice, followed by some split jumps. And no one clapped! All evening, I had been looking forward to seeing some beautiful entrachat six from Hallberg, and he didn't do them! I was so shocked that it totally took me out of the story. In addition, because the brises simply did not look that impressive/exhausting, the emotional impact of Albrecht collapsing to the floor was just completely lacking, and it basically killed the drama for me. Okay, I can understand why Hallberg/Semionova didn't even try for the stock-still overhead press lift that was so jaw-dropping last night--instead Hallberg just lifted her up, rotated in a circle and set her down--but THIS omission was a complete disappointment for me. I totally agree with canbelto on this one. I think I am over my initial infatuation with Semionova. She's a gorgeous girl, and at first, I just loved her long lines, and her 100% reliable, rock-solid technique. I even appreciated the fact that her characterizations were never over-the-top, and honest. But since I know she's so technically impressive, now I find myself waiting for her to surprise me, to push beyond simply what is required and into what is extra and unexpected. And so far this season, she hasn't. This was especially apparent to me tonight, in contrast to last night's Act I Vishneva who was REALLY giving it all she had--to astounding effect. In her variation, Vishneva effortlessly dipped into a 180 degree penchee arabesque and pulled off double pirouettes in attitude easy as can be, but Semionova didn't try for the deep arabesque and only did singles. By the time Vishneva did her hops on pointe, the audience was in a frenzy. Not so tonight. The only times I've seen Semionova seem like she was genuinely "into" a performance and pushing for more was her first Swan Lake (with Gomes) and last year's Sylvia. So I do think she is capable of giving more, but only when she is paired with someone who can comfortably partner her, allowing her to be free--and there are not many partners who can do that. This being said, I did really like Semionova's mad scene; I felt like it was the most emotionally engaged I've seen her all season, and it wasn't overdone. I also MUCH preferred the fact that her hair was completely loose--but it did almost fall out before her mother undid it. In Act II, Part was great as Myrta. I've always thought she has a fabulous jump, and she used it to great effect tonight. For me, there wasn't as much contrast between Semionova's characterization of Giselle-the-girl and Giselle-the-wili--she even had the flowers in her hair in Act II. Those hops in a circle Giselle does when she first appears were thrilling, but then the side-to-side steps she did (glissades?) punctuated by jumps on either end seemed very off the music to me--too much emphasis on the in-between steps and not enough on the jumps which really make Giselle look weightless. In the pas de deux, they took the tempi much faster than last night, and I realized anew how much harder it is to do things slowly. Those initial steps Giselle does around a kneeling Albrecht--when she raises onto pointe and developpes her other leg--when the tempi is a lot slower you really have to hold the balances longer. You need so much control and strength to take it as slowly as Vishneva and Gomes dared to do last night. Last year I attended a talk at ABT with Semionova, and I was struck when she said that she wished she had attended the Vaganova academy (instead of the Bolshoi academy) because she really admires the way they use their arms and upper body. This came to my mind as I watched her Act II tonight. Semionova is long-limbed, and yet her arms didn't have the same fluidity--and I dare say poetry--as Vishneva's seemed to have last night. Perhaps I am being overly harsh--but this is what happens when you see a "performance for the ages" followed by one that is merely good. I do wish ABT would pair Semionova with Bolle instead--or even with Shklyarov. I think they have the potential for great chemistry, which I think would push Semionova to be more engaging. ** I've got three more Giselle's left, so hopefully they will be more fulfilling!
  4. Like abatt, I am headed back tonight, and I am hoping Hallberg won’t have too much trouble lifting Semionova! To respond to nanushka: 1) I agree with you about the mad scene being a bit overdone—on one hand, I like that Vishneva really goes crazy, but on the other hand, it does seem like an awfully long, drawn-out scene, which reduces the dramatic impact of the ending. I think part of the problem is ABT’s staging. I really liked how the POB version handled this scene. It always bothers me that Albrecht, Giselle’s mom and all the other villagers just stand and do nothing for like 5 minutes while they are watching Giselle fall apart—I always feel like, “why doesn’t someone go help her?” In the POB version, however, the villagers froze (and the lights went dark, I think), for half of the scene, so it was like a private moment Giselle’s, and then we saw how the villagers when she really goes crazy and ultimately dies. I felt like that works much better. 2) I think I know the reason for the elaborate hair scene. In one of the 2011 performances, Vishneva’s hair wasn’t securely fastened, so it started falling out of its bun about halfway through Act II, well before the mad scene. As a result of that experience, I’m guessing that she overcompensated the other way—securing her hair too much, which made it difficult for Susan Jones to undo. I did think it was interesting, however, that she left her hair half-up. I think in the past it’s been completely loose, but I’m guessing that again, she was erring on the side of not having it fall out prematurely. 3) I agree that the tempi in Act II were very slow, but I actually wished they were even slower! But I think that’s really just because I wanted to see this amazing show go on forever. In particular, I think those first overhead lifts—Gomes could have continued to bring her down ever-so-slowly (this was truly amazing), but then they would’ve ended up being behind the music. I understand your point about a too-slow tempo robbing the scene of its forward propulsion, but here I felt like Vishneva/Gomes totally filled each second of the drawn-out music, so for me, it was wonderful. (And I wanted more!) The way that Vishneva ever-so-slowly lifted her leg in her first arabesque was a jaw-dropping moment for me—the amount of control and strength needed to do that was astonishing. Not everyone can do this, however, and I have seen other couples attempt a too-slow tempo and fail to match the music. 4) You might be right about the “half-curtain calls” becoming tiresome—but this is hardly unique to Vishneva/Gomes. EVERY couple I’ve seen in every ballet this season has gotten the same half-curtain call: Kent/Bolle, Semionova/Stearns, etc. If you disapprove of the “lost in their own world” affection they show to each other, that is certainly your prerogative, but I for one think that it is a completely honest expression of how much they enjoy dancing together and how much affection they feel for each other, and for me, it is heartwarming to see. I could gush and gush about how impressed I was with Vishneva’s technique in Act I (though I admit some movements were not as effortless as they perhaps used to be in Act II), but what really struck me in last night’s performance was Gomes’ passion. He is always a selfless, attentive partner with every ballerina he dances with, but when he dances with Vishneva, there is a level of excitement and emotional engagement that I don’t see from him with anyone else. My friend who has seen Kent/Gomes in “Giselle” before was shocked to see how genuinely in love with Vishneva he looked, and another friend (a ballet newbie) was shocked to hear that they weren’t married in real life! In Act II in particular, I really enjoyed the way he went from grieving deeply over Giselle’s death, to full of excitement when Giselle’s ghost appears to him, and then to absolute ecstasy when she showers him with flowers. Vishneva’s Act II Giselle is always sort of devoid of emotions, though clearly still devoted to Albrecht, but it didn’t matter because Gomes was so very passionate. I hate to think about this, but I’m not sure how many more years we will get to see Vishneva & Gomes together, so I certainly hope SOMEONE decides to capture them on DVD. Recently it feels like practically every performance they give is a “performance for the ages”!
  5. I guess I'll be the first to start this topic! I went to the stage door, so now it is quite late and I'll be brief. Frankly, I thought Vishneva/Gomes were phenomenal tonight. Not only was their dancing amazing, but they brought such an emotional connection to the ballet. I think they are reaching new heights with their partnership. Murphy was a fine and imperious Myrta. I'll write more later! All I can say is "Bravo"!!
  6. I attended Tuesday's performance with Kent/Gomes. I first saw Ashton's "Cinderella" three years ago at the Royal Ballet, and I didn't like it then, and I may have liked it even less tonight. However, I know I am probably in the minority here... I have generally liked Ashton's other choreography--I really enjoyed "A month in the country," I like "The Dream" a lot, and I even liked the "Birthday Offering" ABT did a few years ago. However, his very fleet-footed, staccato style seemed completely at odds with much of Prokofiev's score, at least in my opinion. I just did not understand his use of the music at all in several places. The four fairy variations looked extremely awkward to me--not because the dancers were struggling (they did not look like they were about to fall off balance or anything like that), but because they seemed to be frantic, on purpose. I usually am not bothered much by Boylston, but tonight her lack of control of her arms really bothered me. I also didn't understand at all why the Fairy Autumn was pointing all over the place.April Giangeruso as the Fairy Winter seemed to fare the best, but that might just be because there were a few slower, lyrical steps in her variation. I also did not like the Stars dance at the close of Act I, where the dancers bend up and down very sharply, in alternating patterns. It's a very one-two beat pattern when the music is a waltz!! For me, the only dancer who was able to make the dancing look quick-silver and fleet instead of frenetic was Stella Abrera, and it really made me wish SHE were dancing Cinderella! Kent was okay. As a character, she is perfect as Cinderella--she has that endearing sweetness that makes you want to root for her. Her dancing lacked some of the extension and range that other dancers will probably have, but nothing looked labored until Act III, when she struggled a bit with the supported promenade and penche arabesque. Gomes was his usual gallant self, but even he seemed a little challenged by the choreography and was lacking some of that polish I'm used to seeing from him. In Act II, the four cavaliers (Prince's friends) were totally out of synch, and this extended to their partnering of the fairies as well. But I was most disappointed with the big pas de deux between the Prince and Cinderella. Here Prokofiev has written a glorious, luscious, dreamy, slow waltz, but for 2/3rds of it, Ashton gives us these sharp movements, like when Cinderella is whipped from an arabesque on one side to the other. I wanted floating-on-air--that lovely rise and fall of the waltz--and I didn't get it until the very end. What a waste of a beautiful piece of music, in my opinion! Act III made the most sense to me, musically, but it was a big snooze--no grand final p.d.d. like in "Sleeping Beauty" or "Don Quixote." Not even the stepsisters could save this for me. Tonight Kenneth Easter and Thomas Forster were absolutely fabulous with what they were given--but I really did not like what they were given. The first 5 minutes were hilarious, and then I had had enough of their slapstick routine. But, like I said, I thought they did an excellent job, I just didn't like the one-note characterizations. I also didn't like the fact that Cinderella's father was so hapless. I much prefer the versions with an evil stepmother. So overall, I did not like "Cinderella" much at all, but I realize that I'm probably in the minority. The people all around me seemed to think the ballet was "very pretty"! But they certainly didn't stay for more than one curtain call. I'm going again tomorrow night. We'll see if Joey Gorak can save Cinderella for me!
  7. Interesting! Before the show, the two girls standing behind me in line for the ladies' room mentioned that they chose the matinee because Misty was dancing in it, so I guess her popularity is selling tickets! Of course I informed them that they were super lucky that they'd get to see Vishneva & Gomes, to which the lady in front of me said something like, "I worship Diana Vishneva!" Can't say I disagree! Given the dismal ticket sales for most of the shows, I wonder if they will bring back "Manon" next year. In recent years ABT has been running these passion play ballets ("Lady of the Camellias," "Onegin") for two seasons back-to-back, presumably because they want to take advantage of having taught the corps a new ballet (that's my guess). (Since "Manon" hasn't been run for 7 years, I'm guessing it was a new ballet for much of the corps.) However, ABT will probably do R&J next year, and I'm guessing they won't want to do two MacMillan ballets the same season--unless a certain senior ballerina who still does well in these roles decides to retire... Any thoughts?
  8. I'm sure Vishneva only did this because she didn't want to have her hair in the wig for her 10th anniversary celebration part. On Tuesday she kept her wig on during all of the curtain calls, as you can see here:
  9. Looks like LaKarsavina has posted several videos of this afternoon's festivities. Here's the 10th anniversary celebration I described: And here's the cute moment in the final curtain call: You can see the other videos here: https://www.youtube.com/user/LaKarsavina
  10. You're not the only one! Both of my friends were also in tears! I personally find that go-for-broke, no-holds-barred passion that Vishneva/Gomes displayed absolutely exhilarating. They left everything out on the stage, and at the end, when the curtain went up, Vishneva just leaned against Gomes like she really was dying! Incredible! It occurs to me that Vishneva and Gomes have killed me on 4 of the past 5 June 7ths. It's a special day for them! There was "Lady of the Camellias" on 6/7/10 and 6/7/11, "Onegin" on 6/7/12, and then today! During the first curtain call, the curtain opened and the entire cast was on stage to congratulate Vishneva on her 10th anniversary. First Gomes gave her flowers, then Irina Kolpakova (whom Diana lifted off the ground when she hugged her!), then Kevin McKenzie, then a little boy who I think is Vishneva's nephew. Gomes kept sending her to the front of the stage to bow again, and the second time she jogged backwards to rejoin him, she almost fell over the flowers in the center of the stage! It was such an endearing moment! There was one more curtain call after this, but then people just wouldn't stop clapping. One man kept yelling "Bravo" over and over and they were forced to come out one more time. Gomes picked up Vishneva and put her on his shoulder--she wasn't expecting that and it was so cute! What a day! Thank you, so, so much, Vishneva & Gomes! It has been such an utter privilege to see the two of you not just dance, but LIVE, the story of "Manon" onstage! To many more years of Vishneva & Gomes!!
  11. It is also strange to me that they don't offer atrium discount tickets like NYCB, the Phil and even Act One now playing does. Why not? If I'm not mistaken, I believe that it is the policy of the Met Opera House not to offer atrium tickets, not ABT's... I wonder if perhaps they have raised the ticket price so dramatically to make up for the lost revenue from the poorly-sold weeks...?
  12. As FauxPas mentioned, any cast that followed Vishneva/Gomes would have a tough act to follow, and so it was tonight. Semionova & Stearns put on a fine performance, but for me, they simply did not reach the dancing or emotional heights that last night's performance achieved. In the first act, I found myself wishing that there was a stronger, taller dancer that could partner Semionova in this ballet. Stearns handled the partnering quite admirably, but I felt that both had to hold back a bit in order to focus on the tricky partnering maneuvers. Though nothing looked difficult or labored, it did not have that same effortless quality that both Kent/Bolle and Vishneva/Gomes achieved. Even though Stearns is quite a good partner, Semionova is simply too tall to throw herself at him with wild abandon. (She did seem to appreciate his efforts though--she gave him her entire bouquet during the bows, which was a very sweet gesture!) That being said, maybe wild abandon is not her style. Even dancing by herself--in the Act II solo, for example--she did not take the movements to the extreme and vamp it up to the same delicious degree that Vishneva did. She is undeniably pretty and her long lines are lovely, but she doesn't DEMAND that you pay attention to her with her characterization the way Vishneva seems to do. That being said, I did like both her and Stearns' characterizations of the roles. On Monday, I found the qualities that make Bolle/Kent endearing as Romeo & Juliet make them rather unsympathetic in "Manon." They seem sweet, youthful, innocent, but not too bright--which is perfectly fine for the lovestruck teens--but didn't work for Manon and Des Grieux. To me, Kent's Manon seemed like she went from "oh look, he's so cute, let me to dance with him!" to "oh look, this old guy has lots of money!" without a single thought, while Bolle's Des Grieux was like, "she's so pretty, I'm just going to follow her around." Because they both seemed kind of clueless, I couldn't really feel sorry for them in Act III. Vishneva's Manon was a slave to her desires. She craves love, she craves luxury. She's aware that she treats Des Grieux badly, that what she's doing is wrong, but she simply can't stop herself. Similarly, Gomes' Des Grieux knew very well that Manon mistreated him, that she's headed down a dangerous path, but she's just so damn irresistible that he also can't help himself either; he's drawn to her like a moth to a flame. And they both suffer terribly for their actions in Act III--their final p.d.d. is a sucker punch. And I found this arc of downward spiral, terrible suffering, and redemption through death to be very satisfying. Today, Semionova's Manon was somewhere in the middle. She's not a silly teenager; she is calm and calculating. She regrets leaving Des Grieux, but she also knows what she wants--the finer things in life. Stearns' Des Grieux was also between the two extremes, both blindly devoted to her in a youthful, puppy-dog kind of way, but also willing to chastise her for her cupidity. Their suffering did not deliver a knockout, but it was dignified and sincere. As for Reyes--I saw her in Act I and III in the dress rehearsal on Monday. I think it's somewhat unfair to comment on rehearsals, but I didn't think she would be completely miscast in the role. I will note that her petite size makes her look VERY child-like, which made the jailer rape scene especially disturbing to me, and made her appropriately weak/vulnerable looking for the rest of Act III. ** One other note on the Lescauts and mistresses--James Whiteside was believable as Semionova's older brother, but Simkin was not really believable as Kent's brother, and Cornejo as Vishneva's brother was a stretch. Also, at the end of Act I, Simkin tackling Bolle to the ground, and Cornejo doing the same to Gomes, was simply hilarious and not realistic to me. Whiteside and Stearns seemed better matched. Abrera/Simkin were surprisingly good in the drunken pas de deux in Act II--their size difference when she's on pointe was really funny. Cornejo/Copeland were also stellar. However, tonight, Part/Whiteside struggled a bit in that Whiteside had to seriously partner her, and it wasn't clear if they were having problems with the choreography or if they were being intentionally funny. ** Anyway, can't wait to see Vishneva & Gomes again on Saturday!!
  13. ord7916, you beat me to it, but I agree completely! I went to see Kent/Bolle last night, and I was completely underwhelmed. The actual dancing was quite beautiful--in fact I was worried that Kent's age would show, but she and Bolle danced very well and looked lovely together. However, the story fell completely flat for me. Today was a completely different story! THIS IS WHY I GO TO THE BALLET!! Vishneva & Gomes were spectacular, and as I walked out, all I could think was WOW! I had the privilege of speaking to Vishneva very briefly last year, and she told me that "Manon" was her favorite role, and now I can see why. I absolutely loved Act I, but her Act II Manon was amazing. I'm not sure any other ballerina could vamp like she does (okay, maybe except for Dvorovenko, but she's no longer dancing). To use two cliches, although Vishneva & Gomes hit it out of the ballpark tonight, I think Saturday's performance is going to be completely out of this world! I simply can't wait!! One last note--it looked like Vishneva's whole family was there! I saw her husband, her parents and her sister (as well as two people I assumed to be Vishneva's brother-in-law and nephew).
  14. Hooray!! I have been very curious to see Twyla Tharp's "Bach Partita" since the Partita in D Minor (or at least the Chaconne at its conclusion) is my very favorite piece of classical music!! (And it was premiered on my birthday.) Hopefully they find a good violinist to play the pieces, or I will be very disappointed...
  15. That's too bad. I find the score to be quite charming -- if not in comparison to Tchaikovsky, then at least in comparison to the other typical ballet alternatives (Minkus oom-pah-pahs, etc). I also love Sylvia's score, maybe one of the best scores for ballet! I feel like I should like the score of "Sylvia" more because it is clearly superior to the Minkus stuff, and Tchaikovsky was full of praise for it, but alas, my tastes are strange! ;) I overwhelmingly prefer dark and dramatic music, so while others don't like the "Cinderella" score and hated the funereal theme of "Lady of the Camellias" (the Largo from Chopin's Piano Sonata #3), I think, "more more more please!!" But I more I see the ballet, the more I am finding some enjoyable parts of it. As for Stearns being injured--I have to say that the lifts in this ballet seem extremely taxing for the man. Although Gomes had no problems partnering Murphy, it did not look as completely effortless as usual--he seemed to be really concentrating when carrying her across the stage over his head (when she's leaning back and resting one leg on his shoulder). I wonder if that contributed to Stearns' injury...
  16. Well, it seems that part of your wish has come true! On Vishneva's official website she wrote that she will be dancing with Gomes in "Onegin" at the Bolshoi if all goes to plan (or so GoogleTranslate tells me). http://www.vishneva.ru/ru/questions Now if only they could record it for DVD!!
  17. Wow wow WOW!! Semionova and Bolle should dance EVERYTHING together!!! Talk abut two PERFECT ballet physiques!! And the mythological setting seemed totally appropriate--clearly we were in the land of gods and goddesses with these two leads!! I saw "Sylvia" last night with Murphy and Gomes, and while I thought they danced very admirably (and partnered very well), I wasn't sure I would be able to sit through two more performances of the ballet. The plot is pitiful, and the score is not too my liking (it does nothing for me, as opposed to the "Swan Lake" score), and though the costumes are beautiful and the set is impressive, I found the whole thing quite boring. But what a difference a day makes! I thought that Semionova and Bolle were absolutely wonderful! My friend (who admittedly only has seen a handful of performances) called it the best ballet she's seen so far. I really enjoyed Semionova as Sylvia. In the initial scene, I thought that perhaps she lacked a little bit of the imperious Amazonian spirit that Murphy had, but oh! the beauty of her long limbs in those many grand jetes and the gorgeous curve of her arabesque! Her absolute (and seemingly effortless) command of her technique were on full display tonight. But more than that, she seemed more emotionally engaged than perhaps I've seen her all season. And I think that had to do a lot with Bolle! (It must be easy to pretend to be in love with him!!) For once, Semionova didn't have to worry about straining her partner and could really dance full-out. I thought she looked more free and happy than I've ever seen her--she was positively glowing. Previously, I thought that Hallberg was a good match for her since they're both so tall, slim and long-limbed, but I was wrong! Bolle is tall and gorgeous, and I thought they looked absolutely fabulous together!! I really hope to see her dance with him more--I bet I would really love her in "Romeo & Juliet," for example, if she could dance with Bolle! I thought Bolle danced wonderfully tonight (though there is not much dancing for Aminta). I also feel that the character sits a little bit more naturally on him than on Gomes. I feel like Gomes wishes there was more of a character arc for Aminta, but he's pretty one-dimensional, whereas I feel like Bolle can more easily adopt the attitude of "I'm gorgeous, and I love you, and that's all that really matters." I liked Cory Stearns as Orion last night, and Jared Matthews was quite good too. When I initially saw the casting, I wondered how Matthews would handle partnering Semionova, but he didn't seem to have any difficulty lifting her at all. (Though I do feel that this is a reflection of Semionova's rock-solid technique--she looked like she could basically partner herself and needed very little help.) And as always, it was a pleasure to see Joseph Gorak (who danced as one of the goats alongside Sarah Lane). He definitely needs to be promoted ASAP! Can't wait to see this cast again on Friday. Bravo!!
  18. This is very late notice, but Polina Semionova will be interviewed on NY1 (local TV station in NYC) tonight sometime between 8-9p.m. (I think the ad said 8:30.)
  19. Here are my thoughts on the two shows I've seen so far. 6/17 - Semionova & Hallberg With Semionova and Hallberg as the leads, I knew Monday's performance would be beautiful and technically self-assured-and it was exactly that: predictably gorgeous. I especially marveled at Semionova's slowly arching backbends in the White swan p.d.d.-simply stunning! However, despite the astounding, first-rate dancing, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the emotional side of this performance. In general, I like Semionova's more restrained and subtle acting, and I think that Hallberg makes a perfect Prince Siegfried, but their white swan p.d.d. did not move me like others have, even though it was undeniably beautiful. I did not feel like they were deeply in love. The Black Swan p.d.d. had even less of an impact for me, although it was danced almost flawlessly-I really had a hard time believing Semionova as an evil seductress, especially compared to some of the beguiling vamps I've seen in the past (like Dvorovenko and Kondaurova). Personally, I did not care for Semionova's fouettes even though she pulled off a jaw-dropping series of triple pirouettes-they did not fit the music at all, and she traveled around the stage quite a bit. Thanks goodness for Marcelo Gomes, however! He totally stole the show as the Purple Von Rothbart! THERE was the drama and passion I was looking for! The crowd definitely went wild for him-deservedly so! Also, it was a treat to see Daniil Simkin as Benno. Effortless, impeccable turns, beautiful arabesque lines, big, airy, easy jumps-wonderful! 6/18 - Part/Stearns I pretty much agree 100% with nanushka and fondoffouettes! This was the first time I saw either of these dancers in these roles, and I almost can't believe I'm writing this, but it's true! I enjoyed this performance more than Monday's show! I was especially impressed by Part. In general, she is a dancer I avoid seeing because her difficulties with some steps makes me uneasy, but I have never seen her dance better than she did last night! She radiated confidence, her fouettes were very well centered (and musical!), and she pulled off some impressive balances. I especially enjoyed the way she held the balances in the final diagonal in the black swan p.d.d. where Odile hops backward in arabesque. Usually I think this last sequence just looks awkward, but Part prolonged the balances separating the hops, making it seem like she was saying to Siegried, "come, come, come, stoppppp!" I felt like she was going for it technique-wise, and that is always exciting for me to see. Bravo! (And I think that is part of the reason why Monday's show was underwhelming for me. Semionova does not have a big personality, and she is so technically proficient-the steps seem SO easy for her-that I think some of the drama/excitement is lost.) But more importantly, I appreciated the emotion that Part brought to the role. With her statuesque build, she is a natural queen, and very clearly commanded the other swans. As Odette, she was especially skittish when she first encountered Siegfried, quivering her legs violently. She forcibly rebuffed his early advances, but that made it all the more touching and romantic when she eventually reached out to him and melted in his arms. As Odile, she was dangerously beguiling, alternatively luring Siegfried and then firmly rebuffing him. The only quibble I have with her characterization is really a fault of the ABT production. In Act IV, I don't like how Odette initially seems angry with Siegfried for his betrayal, but then immediately forgives him and decides to kill herself. The 180 flip in emotions always seems too rushed to me. Stearns' dancing is not as fine as Hallberg's (though I do like how he lands his jumps solidly in a deep plie in fifth position), and I wanted him to be more distraught at the end of Act III, but overall, he did a decent job of partnering, and he did not detract from the beautiful and tragic story Part was telling. As for the other dancers-like others have said, Vasiliev looked miscast as Von Rothbart. The steps are not particularly pyrotechnic, so there were not many points for him to show off. And the costume was unflattering to say the least--one of my friends said he looked like a purple gremlin! ;) Stella Abrera, on the other hand, danced gorgeously and effortlessly. That she is still a soloist is a travesty, in my opinion. Radetsky and Melanie Hamrick were fine as the other two members of the pas de trios. And-as always-it was a real pleasure to see Joey Gorak. I will admit that he is not the fastest turner in the company, but his pirouettes are always perfectly centered and controlled, so I have no complaints. Two "Swan Lakes" down, two more to go!
  20. Here are my detailed thoughts on the three shows I've seen so far. 1) 6/10 - Vishneva & Gomes I've seen at least a dozen performances of "Romeo & Juliet" at ABT now, and by far, Monday's was probably the most completely enjoyable performance I've seen. And I think it was probably the most beautiful, passionate, and moving performance I've seen Vishneva & Gomes give (and I've seen four of them). (Either that or I'm just forgetting.) I feel like the Vishneva/Gomes partnership gets stronger and stronger the more they dance together, so they just keep getting better and better. To me, what helped make this performance the best I've seen was the strength of the supporting cast. Craig Salstein is by far my favorite Mercutio. He absolutely nailed the comic moments and danced with such panache even though the steps seemed slightly taxing for him. His performance of Mercutio's death scene was masterful. He was such a clown for most of the ballet that his despair when he realizes he's dying was truly heartbreaking. I also enjoyed seeing Daniil Simkin as Benvolio. He seemed perfectly cast as the bratty teenager who goes around the ball interrupting the couples. And the three boys-Gomes, Salstein and Simkin-seemed like they were having a great time together. Sascha Radetsky was a wonderfully boorish and vicious Tybalt. He was clearly drunk and itching for a fight in Act II, and his duel with Gomes' Romeo was particularly thrilling-it truly looked like they were fighting; it did not look staged. And after Romeo stabbed him and he fell to the ground, he leapt up and lunged at Romeo with incredible force. His death was brutal. And what a treat to have the gorgeous Stella Abrera as Lady Capulet! Her agony upon seeing Tybalt's dead body was palpable, and her dance of despair perfectly evoked Prokofiev's intense score. As for our leads: Personally, I did not notice anything wrong with Marcelo's dancing. But perhaps it was that he simply seemed subdued compared to Vishneva's gale-force Juliet. In past seasons I had worried that perhaps she was starting to lose some of her spectacular technique and flexibility, but last night she seemed to be dancing more freely than ever! Where do I begin? The incredible pliancy of her spine, the quicksilver bourrees across the stage that make it look like her feet have a mind of their own, the way she can simply whip her leg up to her ear and around-not simply to hit the 180 degree mark, but to create a magnificent arc through the air. The way she'd balance on pointe and slowly developpe the other leg, presenting the foot so beautifully. The reckless abandon, the sense of spontaneity, the sheer beauty of her movement. And the incredible sense of freedom and weightlessness-I didn't fully realize how much this impressed me until I saw Semionova on Tuesday, who was certainly beautiful but felt so much more earthbound and corporeal. I felt that Vishneva's Act I Juliet was the most convincingly girlish I've seen from her. There is something about her character that always strikes me as mature/knowing, and perhaps the very self-possessed and luscious quality of her dancing generally makes it hard for me to believe her as an innocent, slightly awkward teenager. This time, however, she was able to transform her natural tendency to overflow with emotion into an expression of youthful exuberance and excitement. I will admit that her Act III Juliet tends to veer a little into the "Mad Giselle" territory for me, with all the flailing of limbs and messed-up hair, but she certainly clearly conveys Juliet's agony and desperation. In some respects, the almost-crazed way in which she clings to Romeo and pleads with her parents fits the story-clearly this Juliet is crazy enough to kill herself out of love! I also loved the way she performed the final dance with Paris (Grant DeLong). I've never seen another ballerina look so deflated and depressed as Vishneva does here. The contrast between her fluid, lighter-than-air dancing in Act I and her stiff, lifeless body in Act III was particularly striking. It was like she wasn't even trying to move, and poor Paris had to do all the work to manipulate her body. At the end of the ballet-I agree with onxmyxtoes-Vishneva's final gesture was so moving. And the image of her arching her back over the side of the bed was simply stunning. Reyes and Semionova had only their upper back over the side of the bed, but Vishneva arched from the middle/lower back, producing an exceptionally gorgeous curve. Of course, the passionate Gomes was the perfect partner for Vishneva, allowing her to soar freely and seemingly weightlessly. What an unbelievably beautiful and thrilling balcony scene! And in the final crypt scene, Romeo throwing around Juliet's body was particularly heartwrenching-what a complete contrast from that silky, soaring beauty in the balcony scene and the limp bag of bones in Act III! The image of an anguished Gomes slowly dragging Vishneva on the ground by the arm-it seems so wrong!!-is seared in my mind. I agree with others that the audience seemed surprisingly subdued-but then again, I think we were all a bit spellbound at the end of Act I and emotionally exhausted at the end of Act III. Bravo! 2) 6/11 - Semionova & Hallberg One of my first thoughts after the show on Tuesday is that Joey Gorak deserves to be Romeo! I personally thought his dancing was even finer than Hallberg's-it's just so effortless for him. Every time he did a grand jete I gasped. Even though his legs are not as long as Hallberg, the way that they explode away from center and hold the extended position (with those beautiful feet) is really striking to me! If he can polish his partnering skills, I think he would make a wonderful Romeo! Aside from Gorak, I thought most of Tuesday's cast paled in comparison to Monday's. Had I not seen Monday's show, I probably would've thought Tuesday's was great, but in comparison to Monday it was only good. On Monday night, Gomes/Salstein/Simkin seemed like the three class clowns who are the most popular guys in town, while Hallberg/Matthews/Gorak seemed like the pretty rich boys who aren't particularly bright or amusing, but are popular because they are taller, better-looking, and more privileged than everyone else. Matthews danced fine, but he lacks the sharp comic timing that Salstein naturally possesses. To me, personally, his Mercutio seemed kind of like a happy-go-lucky, ditzy guy who thinks he's very funny, rather than a clever, witty comedian. As a result, I found his death scene to be less moving-he didn't make the most of the music-and Kristi Boone was also less extravagant in her grief compared to Stella Abrera. Patrick Ogle's Tybalt seemed almost mild-mannered compared to Radetsky's menacing Tybalt. As for Hallberg-initially I was slightly put off by his characterization. I might be overly critical here, but like Matthews, he struck me as being kind of empty-headed in the opening scene, whereas I like to feel that there is something more going on behind the pretty face-Romeo dreaming of the unknown which he seeks. However, once Hallberg's Romeo met Juliet, he acquired the gravitas I was looking for. He seemed genuinely infatuated with her, and then more serious/mature in Act II. However, his partnering definitely left something to be desired. As abatt mentioned, it looked like he was really struggling with some of the lifts, which took away from some of the magic of the balcony scene. In Act III, however, his struggles with lifting Semionova actually magnified the gut-wrenching quality of this scene, since he genuinely looked like he was suffering. I like Semionova quite a bit, and I thought her more subtle interpretation was fine. I felt it was really Hallberg who was preventing her from being a very expressive and passionate Juliet. If she had a stronger partner, I think she could dance with more abandon. 3) 6/12 - Reyes & Cornejo I have to admit that I considered skipping this show initially, since Monday's show was so great and Tuesday's paled in comparison. I was worried that Wednesday's casts would not fare so well either, but I was pleasantly surprised! I thought Reyes & Cornejo delivered a lovely, heartfelt and very moving performance. Certainly, it was not as thrilling or mind-blowing as Monday night, but it was definitely enjoyable. I think Cornejo brings an innate nobleness to Romeo, which I liked, and Reyes was convincingly girlish as Juliet. They have good chemistry together, or at least they are very comfortable together, so their scenes together were quite satisfying. I also quite liked Arron Scott's Mercutio. He's not quite as hammy as Salstein, but definitely funny. And I actually found myself almost tearing up when he died at the end of Act II. I also really appreciated Alexei Agoudine as the Prince/Friar on Wednesday night. This is a very minor role, but it does make a difference to the overall ballet. Clinton Luckett was not particularly imposing as the Prince or convincing as the Friar, but I thought Agoudine did good job. All in all, it was a solid performance. Three down, two more to go!!
  21. It's quite late so I'll be very brief! I've seen Vishneva/Gomes perform R&J 4 times now, and I think tonight was their best performance yet! They were so passionate, so full of abandon, and so heart-wrenching!! And, as usual, the curtain calls were worth the price of admission--they looked so ecstatic after the performance and were so affectionate towards each other. I'm seeing 4 more R&J's, so more detailed thoughts from me later...
  22. So far I've seen three Don Q performances, and I have two more to go. Here are my thoughts so far: 1) Friday 5/24 - Reyes & Cornejo 10th anniversary I had such a great time at this performance! Sure, Reyes doesn't have the same extension or flexibility as some of the other ballerinas, but she more than made up for it with her quicksilver turns, musicality, and her saucy charm as Kitri. Those fouettes that she did where she opened and closed the fan above her head were AMAZING! Also, her comedic timing was perfect, especially in the scene when Basilio fakes his death. As for Cornejo, I could watch him turn and jump for days! So easy, so perfectly centered, such nice lines. Bravo! He was also perfectly believable as the hot-tempered charmer. The two of them had great chemistry and brought some real Latin panache to the performance. They were the only pair I saw who actually made the Spanish dances look authentic, instead of like ballet dancers trying to do flamenco. Craig Salstein was an absolute scene-stealer as the bumbling suitor Gamache--so much so that he occasionally distracted me from the main action with his antics. An unexpected highlight for me occurred when Kitri's father (played perfectly by Roman Zhurbin) accidentally hit Gamache with a large fish near the end of Act I. Somehow, Zhurbin managed to hit Salstein at just the right angle that not only his hat flew off, but also his wig!! It was a mishap--yet perfectly believable (why wouldn't the foppish Gamache wear a wig?)--that I and the people around me burst out laughing. I was laughing so hard I was crying! Hee Seo generally danced beautifully as Mercedes/Queen of the Dryads, though she did have a little bit of trouble getting around those darts on the ground in Act I, and a few bobbles with the Italian fouettes in Act II (but so did everyone). However, I just did not really believe her as the sultry street dancer--to me she just came off as mildly coquettish. It didn't help that her Espada--Alex Hammoudi--was not particularly charismatic, though he did look dashing in the costume. He seemed to struggle a bit with the steps, and they came off a little ill-defined to me. Overall, however, the performance was immensely enjoyable thanks to Reyes and Cornejo's fun and fiery performances. Congratulations on 10 years as principals! 2) Saturday 5/25 - Osipova & Vasiliev Well, I may be in the minority here, but I was really disgusted by Osipova and Vasiliev's dancing. I've been put off by their sloppiness in the past, but I thought I would be able to overlook their flaws in a ballet like Don Q, which is all about the big tricks. Unfortunately, I was wrong. They changed the steps, they totally disregarded the music, and they didn't try to make it balletic/graceful at all. As the NY Times review mentioned, "fabulously vulgar!" I understand that the vast majority of people find them immensely exciting, but I guess they're just not my cup of tea. Tiler Peck was sitting a few rows ahead of me, and she left after Act II. Maybe I should've done the same. ;) But, if I had, I would've missed Christine Shevchenko's lovely performance as one of the flower girls! Her performance was a real highlight for me. I hope to see her in more soloist roles (and promoted to soloist)! In fact, I thought most of the supporting cast looked pretty good. When Osipova danced Don Q with Carreno a few years back, I felt like the rest of the cast was a total snooze in comparison to Osipova, but I didn't feel that huge discrepancy that this time. In particular, Simone Messmer totally oozed sex appeal as Mercedes--there is the fire I was missing in Hee Seo--and I think she even made Hammoudi dance better! Interestingly, Messmer did not dance Queen of the Dryads--Misty Copeland did. Apparently it was her first show back after her injury, so they wanted to ease her back into it so they split the roles of Mercedes/Queen of the Dryads. 3) Monday 5/27 - Semionova & Stearns Well, I guess I'm REALLY in the minority here, but I totally enjoyed this performance, and so did my friend. Now HERE was the BEAUTIFUL bravura dancing I was looking for! Semionova was wonderful--even better than two years ago, in my opinion. Last time, I remember she seemed a little nervous (it was her first show with ABT, after all), but this time she looked 100% comfortable. In fact, as my friend commented, she was positively glowing. She pulled off some jaw-dropping balances--in the Act III balance, she went from a back attitude to retire and then developped the leg forward, all while staying on pointe--and crazy multiple pirouettes in the fouettes section. But I also appreciated the way that she would luxuriate in the music--slowing down a soutenu turn, or taking a backbend to the limit. Gorgeous! In contrast to most people, I really enjoyed seeing Stearns with Semionova! I thought they make an attractive couple and to me (with my binoculars), I thought there was real chemistry there. Though she and Whiteside might be interesting! True, there were a few iffy partnering moves--sometimes it looked like he was hindering the supported pirouettes rather than helping, and one of the fish dives looked a bit strained--but he definitely held Semionova in the one-handed lifts much longer than I would've expected. I also have to give kudos to James Whiteside for a flashy and sharp portrayal of Espada. He certainly had plenty of attack! I would love to see his Espada paired with Messmer's Mercedes sometime! All in all, a gorgeous performance! More on the other Don Q's later...
  23. 1) Drink to me First of all, it was an absolute pleasure to see Joey Gorak in "Drink to Me with Thine Eyes Only" again! For me, he is absolute joy to watch. Everything is so easy, so fluid, and so beautiful! I totally agree that he should be promoted ASAP! I'm not sure if I was just feeling more awake the second time around, or if I knew what to expect, but I actually enjoyed the second cast more. But I still don't feel like I need to see this piece again. 2) A Month in the Country Hee Seo's dancing was absolutely gorgeous! I'm glad I saw her second, otherwise Julie Kent's perfunctory execution of the steps would've really paled in comparison! Her acting was fine--the only scene that felt less-than-believable was when she slapped Vera. I thought Kent showed the right mix of jealousy followed by instant motherly remorse in that scene. Hallberg's dancing was also lovely. Personally, I preferred Gemma Bond's characterization of Vera--her anguish after being caught with Beliaev, and then her anger when she discovers Beliaev & Natalia were more fleshed-out, and she definitely made me laugh. 3) Symphony in C I've only seen NYCB perform "Symphony in C" once (in February), and I honestly can't remember a single thing about it, so I (luckily) was not disappointed with the ABT version. In fact, I thought last night's performance was fantastic! I loved, loved, loved Stella Abrera--totally confident, crisp, and beautiful. I also love Eric Tamm, though he didn't have quite the same amount of ease as James Whiteside, in my opinion. I do agree that the first movement did seem to drag a little bit, but it did get better as it went on! I thought Marcelo Gomes & Polina Semionova were absolutely exquisite in the adagio. FINALLY I could relax and enjoy. Like canbelto, I did notice that Semionova didn't hit the 180 degree penchees. That is something I have noticed in other works as well--she has good extensions, but definitely not the highest ones. (I'm not sure if that is more of a stylistic choice rather than a physical limitation though, because I've definitely seen her stretch against the wall past 180 degrees in the studio.) Osipova and Vasiliev were exciting in the third movement, but I was slightly disturbed by the way Osipova made sure to hit the 180 degree penchee, no matter how sloppy it was on the way there. (As my ballet teacher always says, it's not about the movement, it's how you get there...) In the final movement, I thought Jared Matthews looked great. Simone Messmer was fine, but she didn't seem 100% confident to me. Even so, thanks to that gorgeous adagio and thrilling third movement, I really enjoyed the whole performance.
  24. Okay, so I finally got around to writing more detailed impressions of the four "Onegin" performances I saw. 1) Vishneva and Gomes As amazing as the first performance was, the second one was even better. I feel like Vishneva/Gomes are still testing the waters in the first performance, so by the second performance they can take every move, every backward swoon, and every lift to the limit! That being said, If I am going to be 100% honest, I will admit that I don't think that Vishneva and Gomes are ideally suited to be Tatiana and Onegin, at least not in their Act I incarnations. First, despite Vishneva's petite frame, I find it somewhat difficult to see her as a shy and innocent girl-she always seems a bit bit experienced, or at least a bit knowing. I have an even harder time seeing her as a wallflower, since she always seems to (effortlessly) make herself the center of attention, and she has a tendency to overflow with emotion. Since she doesn't naturally blend into the background, I feel like she compensates by making her Tatiana almost excessively morose. This effect is heightened by her appearance-with her jet-black hair, preternaturally-pale skin, and white outfits, she seemed to be almost like a Wednesday Addams compared to the other rosy-cheeked girls in their flowery dresses. No wonder Onegin isn't interested in such a gloomy girl! However, I did appreciate the details she added to flesh out Tatiana's character. (How difficult it must be to project a vivid inner life when you don't do anything but mope around!) Instead of immediately sitting down on the chaise in the back while the other girls danced, Vishneva lingered by the birch trees, lost in thought. And then, when she was reading her book, every so often she would look up and think, ruminating on what she had just read. Similarly, I think Gomes is naturally suited to playing more "hot-blooded" characters; indifference and boredom don't come easily to him, so I felt like his Onegin came off as more disdainful and-when ripping up Tatiana's letter-almost sadistic. However, I am totally willing to overlook these slight character mismatches because of the amazing performances Vishneva and Gomes deliver when they ARE able to unleash their passion, as in the Act I mirror pas de deux. In the Friday performance, I felt like the mirror pas de deux revealed not only Tatiana's joy at being loved by Onegin, but also a sort of sexual awakening. On Monday, it felt like Tatiana's ecstasy was almost overwhelming, and she collapsed time and time again in Onegin's arms. Needless to say, Gomes' partnering looked effortless, and I marveled anew at how Vishneva seems to simply melt into Gomes, and how they are just the right heights so that they can dance cheek to cheek, lips to lips, together. Whereas Vishneva Gomes seem slightly mis-cast in Act I, in Act III, they are perfect. Finally, Vishneva can be the elegant, mature, ravishing princess she naturally is, and Gomes can play the fervent and tortured suitor. I enjoyed the pas de deux between Prince Gremin and Tatiana quite a bit-I thought James Whiteside was a fine and dignified Gremin-but it's all about that final pas de deux! With Vishneva and Gomes, that final p.d.d. felt like a passion play that just so happened to take the form of vaguely balletic steps, like they were making it up on the spot. Vishneva's Tatiana had already worked herself up into a frenzy even before Onegin burst into her room, and when he did, it just felt that a tremendous torrent of emotion was about to be released. Each agonized step, each swoon, suggested that every nerve fiber in Tatiana's body was straining against Onegin's ardent advances. Several times, she looked like she would simply collapse from the psychological struggle. Finally, she sent him away, but it was a pyrrhic victory at best. And when the curtain went up to reveal Vishneva and Gomes wrapped in each other's arms, you could just tell that they had lived every second of that emotional rollercoaster! BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO! Like abatt, I would rush out to buy a DVD of this performance! 2) Semionova/Hallberg They delivered a very fine performance on Saturday afternoon, but they do not have the same white-hot chemistry of Vishneva/Gomes. In addition, because Semionova is taller (and presumably heavier) than Vishneva, while Hallberg is not as strong as a partner as Gomes, they could not go through the steps/lifts with the same go-for-broke gusto like Vishneva/Gomes. Unlike Gomes, I think Hallberg is naturally suited to Onegin, but he did not make a particularly strong impression on me (good or bad) as Onegin. As for Semionova, I know some people find her too tall to be believable as a young girl, but to me she has a sweetness about her, which made her believable as the young Tatiana. Moreover, she has a sort of mellowness of character that made it believable that her Tatiana would be perfectly content curled up in a corner with a book. However, for these same reasons, I found her Act III Tatiana less compelling, and the contrast between her younger and older Tatiana was not so great. When Semionova's Tatiana reads Onegin's letter, she seemed only mildly distressed, and more confused about what she should do, whereas to Vishneva's Tatiana it was crystal-clear that she needed to do EVERYTHING in her power to resist Onegin. Still, overall, it was a beautifully danced performance, even if lacked some of the gut-wrenching power of Vishneva/Gomes. 3) Dvorovenko/Stearns I don't have much to say here except that it felt like everyone was giving it their all since they knew it was Dvorovenko's farewell. Of course, Dvorovenko was perfectly suited for the Act III Tatiana, but I was actually surprised how well she fit the Act I and Act II Tatiana as well. I have to say that Stearns looked great in Onegin's costume, and he did an admirable job of partnering Dvorovenko. Best of luck to Irina and Max in their future activities! 4) As for the Olga's/Lensky's I really don't have much to say except that I LOVED LOVED LOVED Joey Gorak's Lensky. I thought his solo before the duel was by far the best. Not only beautifully danced, but so poignant! His partnering could be polished a little bit more, but this boy deserves a Siegfried and maybe a Romeo!!! Promote him ASAP!! ** Finally - since "Onegin" won't be around next season, I am hoping and praying "Manon" will be back for the MET season. I am DYING to see Vishneva/Gomes in that!! I'm hoping that the Tokyo tour is a preview of things to come!! Thanks to naomikage for the info!
  25. Since no one has started a thread on this, I guess I'll do the honors... 1) “Drink to me with thine eyes only”—I saw this two or three times at City Center and that was enough for me; I really did not need to see this again. It was nice to see Marcelo do the Baryshnikov solo part, but it seemed like a waste. I would’ve preferred to see Joey Gorak do that part and see Marcelo dance “A Month in the Country”! 2) I enjoyed “A Month in the Country” quite a bit, and I thought it was a great vehicle for Julie Kent. Her diminished technique/flexibility were not noticeable here, and she was entirely believable as the bored, married Natalia Petrovna who at first resists, and then embraces her passion for Beliaev, and then despairs when he leaves. Roberto Bolle had a little bit of difficulty with the initial pirouettes in attitude, but otherwise was fine as Beliaev (though I would’ve prefer to see his handsome face without sideburns and a mustache!) Simkin pulled out some impressive virtuous tricks as Kolya (Natalia's son), and for once, the fact that he looks 12-years old fit the part perfectly! I also really enjoyed Gemma Bond as Vera, Natalia’s ward. Stella Abrera looked great as the maid, but she had almost nothing to do. Still, she and Bolle looked great dancing together, as they are both tall and lean and gorgeous! My big question is why Vishneva and Gomes were not cast in this??! Resisting and then giving into temptation and suffering beautifully are what Vishneva excels at—to me, she would be a perfect Natalia Petrovna! But I guess if Gomes is doing Symphony in C and/or the Mark Morris piece, the casting simply didn’t work out…? A shame, though, in my opinion. One other comment—it was slightly strange for me to see the pas de deux between Natalia Petrovna & Beliaev choregraphed to Chopin’s “Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante,” which I remember well from “Lady of the Camellias.” (Ahh, how I would love to see that ballet with Vishneva/Gomes again!!) 3) Symphony in C Well, honestly, watching Veronika Part in the second movement of “Symphony in C” was a harrowing experience for me. I know that she has many fans, but her obvious difficulties with the choreography made it uncomfortable for me to watch her. I really don't like watching dancers look nervous/tentative when they are doing difficult steps. Perhaps Cory is partly to blame—he is no Marcelo—but there were a few times during the (almost interminably) slow section when I felt like she was holding on to Cory for dear life. Near the end, there was also a section with pirouettes that just seemed to fall apart (or at least off-center). Unfortunately, Part’s struggles with the choreography were all the more obvious to me since I had just seen Polina Semionova and Marcelo Gomes do the same pas de deux at the dress rehearsal in the afternoon, and they made it look absolutely effortless. At the moment where the ballerina balances on her left foot and developpes her right leg and the man switches from holding her right hand to her left hand, it looked like Marcelo could have easily let Polina balance there for a few seconds, whereas Cory had to rush from one side to the other... In the rest of “Symphony in C,” I enjoyed James Whiteside in the first movement. Herrera was not particularly memorable. I enjoyed watching Reyes and Cornejo in the third movement, though I was slightly disappointed that Reyes’ grand jetes mostly did not get to 180 degrees (are they supposed to?). In the fourth movement, poor Sarah Lane had an unfortunate fall near the beginning, but she recovered nicely for the rest of the movement. At the end when the four ballerinas are dancing together, Paloma and Veronika were slightly ahead of the other two, but overall, I thought the entire group looked more synchronized than I would’ve expected, and overall, I enjoyed it. This might be one of the few Balanchine pieces I actually look forward to seeing. I’m heading back for the second cast tomorrow night.
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